Knesset c'ttee nixes polling station cameras bill

polling station

The Likud-sponsored bill to allow political parties to place cameras in polling stations will not proceed to first reading.

After a stormy session and two breaks, the Knesset Arrangements Committee rejected the application by the Likud party for an accelerated procedure for its bill to allow political parties to put surveillance cameras in polling stations. Twelve opposition members, including representatives of the Labor Party and Yisrael Beitenu, voted against, and twelve coalition representatives voted in favor. The tied vote means that the bill will not be raised for first reading in the Knesset plenum today, but only for general discussion.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Central Elections committee, Judge Hanan Melcer, is due to respond to the Likud's request that the committee itself should operate cameras in polling stations. Melcer waited for the outcome of the vote, and he will now be able to give a decision without the threat of the bill hanging over him. Israel goes to the polls on September 17, for the second time in six months.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Hadash party (which is running on the Joint Arab List) told "Globes": "Our stance prevailed. Netanyahu failed. The right's opportunism is an assassination attempt on the remains of democracy. For the time being, it has failed. We halted Netanyahu's great campaign of larceny. Another small push and Netanyahu will fall."

MK Shlomo Karai of Likud said in response to the vote: "Through the opposition of his representative on the committee to the cameras bill, Liberman has conspired with the Arab parties and given them a following wind for their mass election fraud. He thus provides further evidence that he will join a left-Arab government headed by Lapid and Gantz."

In the committee session, ML Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) said to the Likud committee members: "I don’t trust you. We have seen facial substitution technology purporting to show someone talking to someone else. I don't believe your pictures." Forer was referring to Likud election campaign advertisements showing a Photoshop processed picture of Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman with MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List. Minister of Justice Amir Ohana said in the discussion: "We thought at first that there was no need for a law because it was permissible to document and film. Then they said we needed a law. Now they're saying it’s not legitimate to propose it before the election. Whoever votes against it is a perpetrator of fraud or benefits from fraud."

During the committee session, chairman Miki Zohar (Likud) expelled MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta'al - Arab Movement for Change) after the latter demanded that he should state where there had been election fraud. According to Tibi and opposition MKs, the only fraud found in the last election was in votes for Likud. In the course of the argument Zohar said to Tibi: "The Jewish race is a special race, deal with it." This was after Tibi opened the session by saying that the government was promoting an antisemitic statement that Arabs committed voting fraud. "This from a man who is accused of fraud and bribery. This the last party that can preach morality to us," Tibi said.   

A spokesperson for Likud said in response that, contrary to the reports, the work in the Knesset on passing the cameras bill was continuing.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on September 9, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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